Manchester United’s capture of Omar Berrada from rivals Manchester City has been widely viewed as a significant coup across the industry. However, the Red Devils’ appointment didn’t quite go to plan, and was also met with questions about the 115 charges looming over the Etihad Stadium.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS have proven they mean business before the Premier League ratifies their £1.3billion deal for a 29 per cent stake in the club.
Discretion has been a major issue they are tasked with improving at the Old Trafford helm, with many appointments, transfers and dressing room updates leaked before they are made public.
It made the sudden nature of Berrada’s arrival all the more impressive, especially considering it was an intra-city switch.
According to The Athletic, senior United figures weren’t aware of the hiring until an emergency meeting on Saturday after the club learned of the outlet’s plan to break the story.
The report claims it left United’s communications department rushing to prepare the relevant statements early, with Wednesday, January 25, four days later, initially scheduled for official confirmation.
The hurry within the walls of Old Trafford resulted in an inability to check through Berrada’s old X (formerly Twitter) posts about the club, which included one hoping for a United defeat in a 2012 clash with Chelsea.
Another – rightfully – questioned how United won the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich at Barcelona’s Nou Camp, his previous place of work. His ramblings sparked conversation online.
However, despite the blunder, United figures involved in the process reportedly couldn’t care less and believe they have poached a best-in-class executive.
A more pressing concern among supporters and critics has been Berrada’s potential involvement in City’s alleged breaches of over 100 of the Premier League’s financial rules.
The Premier League has alleged misreporting of financial information between 2009 and 2018, which includes Berrada’s first seven seasons in Manchester after joining in 2011. City deny any wrongdoing.
Concerns over the French-Moroccan’s involvement are eased by the fact he wasn’t called as a witness to the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing that overturned City’s two-year Champions League ban in 2020.
Berrada’s name didn’t feature in the leaked emails published by German magazine Der Spiegel, which led to the UEFA ban, earlier that year.
During an all-staff meeting on Wednesday, interim United chief executive Patrick Stewart tabled questions about Berrada potentially getting caught up in the investigation into City.
Employees were reportedly assured that the Red Devils had conducted the appropriate due diligence on their new CEO. They are confident he will arrive in the summer with no dark clouds hanging over his head.